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Help for vaccine production: Digitized compressor technology

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News, Pharmaceuticals, Processing Technologies

Rolf Hömke, research spokesman for the German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (VFA), made clear what came as no surprise to those responsible for vaccine production:

“It’s one thing to produce on a small scale, it’s another thing when they have to scale up all at once.”

Increasing vaccine volumes on a scale never before practiced to contain and end the pandemic is imperative. As a result, expansions and conversions of existing production facilities are causing supply bottlenecks. On the positive side, the necessary mature technologies for expanding capacities are available. One example of this is the components for generating and treating high-purity compressed air, which is indispensable as process and working air. The use of oil-free compressors is advantageous here.  Downstream treatment is then less costly.

And because the production of large quantities of vaccine also requires large quantities of additional compressed air, existing compressed air stations have to be upgraded. A new oil-free Plug & Work compressor came in handy for the companies in this situation. Its digitized drive precisely delivers the required volume flow at the specified pressure level. As compressed air demand grows, this compressor can be “upgraded” to the desired capacity within the available rated capacity range of 75 kW to 160 kW.

This is significantly more economical than investing in a new larger or additional compressor. It also eliminates downtime, delivery times and installation costs, as well as additional space requirements. In the current climate, where pharmaceutical companies are working to build up production capacity for vaccine production, this is a key argument for using CompAir’s new Ultima compressors, which are already in use at many pharmaceutical production sites around the world.

The economic benefits of extensive plug & work installation of these compact machines, which do not require complex air duct installations, are considerable. For example, approximately 37% of floor space is saved compared to conventional oil-free compressors. The retrofitting and conversion of compressed air stations, even under limited space conditions, can be easily realized. Added to this is the advantage of a sound pressure level of only 69 db(A). – This is another result of the compact gearless design, which is achieved by digitizing the drive.

Sustainability: Digitization and waste heat recovery

 The low-pressure and high-pressure stages of the Ultima compressor are each driven by their own frequency-controlled high-speed permanent magnet motor. Synchronization is handled by the electronics of the frequency converter. This digital gearbox replaces the otherwise common mechanical gearbox, which loads the compressor systems with both energy and lubricants.

The result is an oil-free compressor with a higher power density, smaller installation space and less weight. The consistently maximum efficiency that can be achieved in this way leads to a reduction in energy costs of up to 13 percent. The problem of unused energy during idling of speed-controlled compressors has also been reduced. This digitized air compressor consumes up to 45 percent less power at idle than conventional two-stage compressors.

The patented closed cooling system of the compressor makes it possible to use the waste heat generated during compression to produce process hot water at usable temperatures of up to 85°C, and for the first time not only in water-cooled models but also in air-cooled models.

This pays off in the pharmaceutical industry, which has a high process heat demand for its numerous production processes. If adsorption dryers are used to achieve an optimum pressure dew point for the compressed air, part of the waste heat can also be used to regenerate the desiccant.

Conclusion: the road to mass production of vaccines to contain and end the pandemic must overcome many bottlenecks. A new digital oil-free compressor technology is helping to make retrofitting existing compressed air supply systems in vaccine production faster, more economical and more sustainable.

News Processing Technologies

Rapid further development of connectors

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The Connector Congress in Würzburg has come to an end with the participation of rolled products manufacturer Kemper.

“After more than a year of abstinence, finally the first presence event in the industry. A piece of normality that many have longed for all this time. We are all the more pleased to have had many interesting discussions and made new contacts.”

– Dr. Stephan Hansmann, Head of Technical Marketing

Miniaturization is one of the much-discussed megatrends, as a result of which more and more plug contacts are being realized in the smallest possible installation space. Accordingly, there was great interest at the Kemper booth in HP bronzes, which have improved formability compared to standard alloys without sacrificing strength. With this property, Kemper HP bronzes offer themselves as an optimal material for increasingly smaller connector systems. “Connectors in particular are developing rapidly and will actively accompany the energy transition,” Hansmann is certain. “This includes, for example, smart connectors with additional functions, where, for example, connectors communicate with each other even before the plugging process has taken place.”

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News Processing Technologies

Great catch-up potential for eMobility in public transport

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Around a hundred thousand diesel buses are still on Europe’s roads with outdated technology. At the same time, the number of e-buses is rising significantly. It is hardly surprising that electromobility is on the rise. After all, the call for sustainable mobility is getting louder and louder. With the MAN Lion’s City 12 E and the all-electric 18 E articulated bus, MAN Truck & Bus offers the right solution for the urban transport of the future.

Electromobility is electrifying more and more people. This is clearly demonstrated by the rising registration figures for e-cars. But e-mobility is not only gaining momentum in private transport. In public transport, too, more and more operators are turning to e-vehicles, as recent figures from the umbrella organization of European vehicle manufacturers (ACEA) show. Based on bus registration figures, the association reported that sales of electric buses in the European Union increased by 18.4 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. The share of diesel engines, on the other hand, decreased by almost ten percent (source: “ACEA buses by fuel type full-year 2020,” 30 March 2021).

“Overall, the total European market for electric buses was more than 2,000 vehicles last year. And the trend is clearly upward. We expect half of all new city buses to be alternatively powered by 2025.”

– Rudi Kuchta, Head Business Unit Bus

Despite the rising eBus numbers, diesel buses are still by far the most common on EU roads. According to ACEA, there were a total of more than 690,000 buses in 2019, with an average age of 11.7 years – 94.5 percent of which were powered by diesel, and 0.6 percent purely electric (source: ACEA Report “Vehicles in use Europe,” January 2021). “The figures and our experience show that electromobility is on the rise. At the same time, they also make clear what great potential it still holds. Replacing diesel buses with outdated technology with modern electric buses will help enormously to reduce CO2 emissions,” says Kuchta, adding, “This is a key building block in tackling climate change.” After all, with an annual mileage of 50,000 to 60,000 kilometers and a consumption of 36 to 49 liters per 100 kilometers, which varies depending on use, topography and vehicle variant, an eBus traveling with zero local emissions can save around 60 to 80 tons of CO2 per year – compared to a diesel bus and assuming the current electricity mix.

The bus is already considered the most environmentally friendly and economical means of transport. However, local public transport operators and municipalities have it in their own hands to cut CO2 emissions even more and thus contribute to climate protection. The European Union has also recognized this and passed the Clean Vehicle Directive. This provides for binding emission standards in municipal fleets – the legislation has been in force since August 2021. Cities must thus set their course for emission-free mobility. The goal: to move from “low emission” to “no emission.”

“More and more public transport companies have understood this and are relying only on battery-powered city buses for new purchases. Or they are setting clear time targets for converting the entire fleet to zero-emission drives,” says Kuchta. One example is Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein (VHH), which has been procuring only locally emission-free, battery-powered buses since 2020. The goal is to convert the entire bus fleet to zero-emission drives as far as possible by 2030.

In order to provide transport companies with the best possible support on their way to zero-emission mobility, the company offers an overall concept that brings together holistic eMobility consulting and tailored, forward-looking solutions. Because for MAN, too, the future of urban mobility is electric. “We are convinced that electromobility is the key technology for commercial vehicle transport of the future. For this reason, we are constantly driving technologies and progress forward together with our customers,” says Rudi Kuchta. The focus here is on the MAN Lion’s City E – and thus the all-electric solution for public transport.

For months now, the MAN Lion’s City E has been demonstrating in more and more cities throughout Europe how excellently it masters urban traffic and how easily it can be integrated into existing processes. During an MAN eBus test drive that took place in Munich in May of this year, it also cracked the 550-kilometer mark under realistic everyday conditions with just one battery charge. “The issue of range plays an essential role for our customers.

After all, on lines that were previously served by a single vehicle with an internal combustion engine, only one electric vehicle will be on the road in the future. During the MAN Efficiency Run, our eBus impressively demonstrated how suitable electric mobility already is for everyday use,” says Kuchta. Even with a realistic range of “only” 400 kilometers in regular operation, the bus could cover 98 percent of the routes served by MAN customers without intermediate charging. And it would then be charged in the depot – with the advantage that operators would not have to invest in additional charging infrastructure in the city area.

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News Processing Technologies Water & Waste Water

WPL wastewater technology is selected by major logistics hub

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Technology from water recycling specialist WPL, a WCS Group company, was selected by DP World London Gateway to provide enhanced ammonia removal to protect sensitive waters in the Thames Estuary. 

DP World London Gateway is a smart logistics center on the north bank of the Thames in Thurrock, Essex, 25 miles from central London. The water recycling specialist will supply a bespoke treatment plant for a new freestanding warehouse for 150 office workers, currently under construction at the logistics center. The plant will be able to handle a flow of 7.5 m3/d for 100 population equivalents.

The treatment plant will discharge into an environmentally sensitive swale that empties into the Thames Estuary and must meet the Environment Agency’s stringent standards of 15:15:03 mg/l for ammonia and suspended solids.  The water specialist will provide an underground HiPAF (High Performance Aerated Filter) system for ammonia removal, as well as a metering unit and sand filter to further improve the final effluent in accordance with site-specific permit requirements. The design also includes a small pumping system due to the depth of the incoming effluent and a pumped backflow chamber.

Dominic Hamblin, WPL’s technical director, said, “DP London Gateway is a key logistics hub and we are pleased to be able to deliver this environmental solution on site on its behalf.

“WPL’s modular HiPAF product range meets the stringent European standards for permitting wastewater without the use of chemicals. The technology is regularly used by UK water utilities and is a good choice for sensitive sites such as marshes, which are shallow and not heavily diluted.

“The HiPAF’s compact design allows it to be installed in locations where space is at a premium, such as a busy commercial area. In addition, our sand filters are designed to remove excess suspended solids and biological oxygen demand when permit standards are above what would normally be expected from a biological process. 

“Once operational, the plant will provide robust wastewater treatment while being quiet, visually unobtrusive and easy to maintain. WPL’s wastewater treatment plant is being built by Readie Construction. Construction is scheduled to begin before the end of 2021 and is expected to take 12 weeks.

“DP World London Gateway is a high-profile site surrounded by sensitive water bodies. We are therefore pleased to be working with WPL to install on-site wastewater treatment for the new warehouse building.”  

– Giuseppe Orlando, Project Manager 

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